Last week I opened a discussion with a question -- "should our church be doing this?"
I hoped that it would be an attention-getter, and that we would have some comments and discussion about churches and fundraisers . . . do the two go together, or not?
We can all identify with the fact that church budgets are just like our family budgets -- they're shrinking! It is getting more and more difficult to make ends meet. There is a temptation to organize a bake sale, to have a rocking chair rock-a-thon, to get the kids involved in a car wash, and other ideas that get tossed around when money is needed for a ministry or an activity.
I've seen this, and I've been involved in it, in the past. Here are some of my thoughts, for what they're worth.
I don't necessarily have any scripture verses to share with you in closing. But here goes . . .
A lot of work goes into making fundraisers work. Of course, you first need to choose just how you will raise the money. Are you going to sell candy bars, cheeses, calendars or candles? Are you going to pick some Saturdays and have the youth wash cars for donations? What. Will. You. Do.
Sometimes there is enough acrimony at this stage to scuttle the project. But for those that clear this hurdle, there are more!
You're going to have to learn to handle competition -- each of your ministries or activities is going to want to have their own fundraiser. That can get a little difficult. You also may have to deal with your members, who are now "sales people," who are kibbitzing about who has sold the most, and conversely, who has sold the least!
It also can be tricky if Johnny helped with the fundraiser, but now he can't go on the mission trip/choir tour/ski trip and his parent can't understand why you won't give him back the money that he raised!
You may have to answer questions, too, about excess inventory, or why you didn't raise enough to actually participate in the promised activity.
But here is my point I'd like to dwell on: Fundraisers make us shift our focus from our ministry to money. We probably already spend a great deal of time thinking about how best to use the small resources we may have in our church, right? Having to spend time gathering those resources really cuts in on time we could spend on reaching people . . .
People start looking more like financial opportunities to us, rather than opportunities to share our faith and add folks to the kingdom. The most important thing is to give them the message of salvation, no?
I think I would rather be part of a shoestring ministry, and be talking to people about Jesus. I'd rather be telling them about how He has changed my life, and answered prayers, than telling them about the latest fundraiser our church is participating in. I truly believe that "little is much, when God is in it" and that His people, young and old, can support His work with their tithes and special offerings.
That's my humble opinion, for what it's worth!